Red dog

I lay hands on a body that trembles with fear, with pain. There is no fix for these wounds. The animal, so lately running, chasing, fetching, now stretched out, his mouth a red cavern of ruin, skin flayed, long bones at impossible angles, heart beating so fast that it can be seen through the wall of his chest, that cage containing his vital, racing heart.

An animal of the moment, no thought for yesterday or tomorrow. Existing to play, to run, to sleep on the bed, to snap at bumblebees, mid-lazy flight – flower to flower.

In my hands, I feel his pain. It seeps from those wounds into me. It soaks my marrow, permeates my heart, fills my lungs with wretched air. My breath labors in time with the animal before me. I am a healer, yet I cannot heal.

I can ease this suffering. I can take away the pain. It doesn’t have to always feel like this. It won’t always feel like this.

When to accept that there is no cure, that nothing can bind these wounds? When to stop trying and when to let go? Let his soul go through death’s door – into that dark, starless corridor – mystery beyond mystery.

This is the question that I ask myself, and the question to which there is no answer. Yet, I must answer. He depends on me to do so – his life-force in my hands. I know what I must do, and so, with a bravery that approaches madness, I ease his pain that last time. And with the passing of his pain, my own agony begins, my heart a red ruin, beats on.


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